Looking for ideas for what to do in the garden in November? Well, look no further as we have compiled a list of garden jobs to keep you busy throughout the month.
While the tops of container plants may be quite hardy the roots are vulnerable to frost. Here are some easy steps you can take to protect them in cold weather.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Bubble-wrap, String, Newspaper, Plastic-bag
Tie a double layer of bubble-wrap polythene around the pot to give a layer of insulation against several degrees of frost.
For more protection stand the container in a plastic bag...
...and fill with crumpled newspaper to create a thick insulating layer...
...tie the top loosely with string or a platic tie. Keep the plastic off the leaves as it can freeze to them causing cell damage. Never cover the plant with plastic.
If you want to increase your stock of shrubs for your own garden or to share, hardwood cuttings are easy to take and require no heat to root. They are ideal for many hardy shrubs.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, Fork, Watering Can
Using one year old wood of pencil thickness cut just above and below a bud or pair of buds to give a cutting of about 15cm long.
In a sheltered part of the garden make a row of holes in the soil using a garden fork.
Place the cuttings in the holes making sure not to bury them.
Water well to settle the soil back into the holes around the cuttings. Leave them undisturbed for 12 months after which they should have rooted and can be lifted to move elsewhere.
If your containers get too wet during the winter months the roots of your plant may suffocate and rot. Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to prevent this form happening.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pot-feet, Stone
The most obvious sign that there is a problem with drainage is water collecting at the surface of the compost.
The first thing to do is to lay the pot on its side to drain as much of the excess water as possible.
To prevent it happening again you can use 'pot feet' to raise your container to improve airflow and drainage.
Elevate the container at an angle by placing a stone (or similar) under one side of the base to aid drainage.
In the winter months the birds in your garden can find it difficult to find enough food. You can help them by putting out a bird feeder and if you make it yourself it won't even cost you anything.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Plastic bottle, Scissors, Marker Pen, Thin Cane, Wire, Gravel, Bird Seed
Take a standard 2L drink bottle and mark out and cut circular holes about a third of the way up from the base. Make sure there are no sharp edges.
Just below the holes make two small holes and push a cane through the bottle to act as a perch.
Feed a wire through the screw cap so that you can hang the feeder in your garden.
To give the feeder some stability you can put gravel in the base. Finally, put food up to the level of the circular holes and hang in your garden.
Walls offer shelter to climbers and shrubs trained against them but sometimes it helps to add a little extra protection.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 4 out of 5 and you will need: Drill
Drill the wall above the area you wish to protect and insert cup hooks to hang the fleece. Make sure to avoid any electrical wires and use extreme care when using ladders and power tools.
Staple over the top and bottom of the piece of fleece to create hems through which canes can be inserted.
Thread canes through through the fleece at the top and bottom. These will keep the fleece flat and help weigh it down.
Suspend the cane at the top of the of the fleece through the cup hooks on the wall and drape the cover carefully over the plant.
It can be very annoying when you plant bulbs in the garden ready for spring colour and then they never appear. You may not even see the culprit, but both mice and squirrels love the food value of healthy bulbs and will eat through the lot if they can.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Aquatic pot, spade or trowel, soap, grater
An aquatic basket pot is a simple way to help protect your bulbs. Part-fill it with garden soil.
Place the bulbs inside. The more bulbs you wish to protect, the larger the pot will have to be.
Fill the pot to the rim with soil and then sink it into the ground where you have dug the hole for soil. For extra protection, lay a piece of 2-3cm chicken wire across the pot and turn the edges down over the rim.
Cover the pot with soil. As an extra deterrent, you can grate scented soap over the top, but this needs replacing every week as the scent wears off. Plastic pots do not biodegrade, so this will need lifting in 2-3 years to divide the clump of bulbs.
Fallen leaves provide a plentifull source of nutrients for your garden. Collecting them from the lawn also prevents damage to the grass.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Rake, Plastic Bag, Compost Activator, Watering Can, Gloves
Use a spring-tined rake to gather all the leaves together in a heap.
Place the collected leaves in a sturdy plastic bag. You can use an old compost bag turned black side out to absorb the sunlight and heat the cotents to speed decomposition.
If you wish you can water the contents of the bag with a compost activator solution. Fold the top of the bag over and stand it in a sunny spot.
Leave the bag for 12 months at which point the leaves should have broken into a rich, nutritious compost that you can spread on your borders.
There’s nothing like the taste of fruit fresh from the garden and growing it is easy. Whether you choose blackcurrant, red or white currant, gooseberry or blueberry (if you have acidic soil), the key to success is to give the plant a good start.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Fruit bush, Spade, Fork, Cane, Fertiliser, Watering Can
Choose a spot that is at least partly sunny and well-drained. Dig a hole large enough for the rootball with a little extra round the sides.
Use a short cane laid across the surface to make sure the hole is deep enough. Normally you would aim to have the collar of the plant (where the roots meet the stem) at surface level, but currants will shoot from the base if they are planted slightly deeper.
Fill the hole around the roots with soil, making sure you do not knock off any buds.
Tread the soil firmly around the base of the plant with your heel to reduce the chance of the plant rocking in windy conditions (which breaks new roots as they form). A gentle tug on the stem will prove whether it is firm enough. Lightly fork a dressing of fertiliser around the plant and water well to settle the soil and wash the food down into the rooting zone.
Fruit always tastes best when picked fresh from the tree and a good tree will be productive for a long time. To get the best results, choose one that is an appropriate size for your garden and plant it well to give it a really good start.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Fruit tree, Spade, Fork, Cane, Stake, Hammer, Tree tie, Fertiliser
Fruit trees are grafted plants: the desired variety is joined to a rootstock that will control the size. If you look closely, you will be able to see the graft union (where the plants were joined) on the stem. It is important that you do not bury this union or you may get unwanted shoots from the rootstock (suckers). A short cane laid across the soil surface will show if the hole is deep enough.
Once the hole is ready, drive a short wooden stake into the base next to the tree. Position the tree close to the stake.
Refill the hole with soil and firm it with your heel around the base of the tree. Add a dressing of fertiliser and fork it lightly into the soil surface. Water well to settle the soil and wash the food down towards the root zone.
Support the tree with the stake using a rubber tree-tie, making sure you have the loop round the tree and the fastening against the stake. This will need checking and loosening as the tree grows.
Hippeastrum, known as Amaryllis, are widely known for their gloriously colourful, trumpet-shaped flowers (often 4 or 5 on a single stem). They are so reliable that they are often sold as gifts in the run-up to Christmas. To get the best results, just take a little care as you plant.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Amaryllis bulb, Compost, Pot, Watering Can
Choose a clean, healthy bulb with no signs of rot and no squashy, soft parts. Remove any loose roots.
Spread the roots out as you add bulb or multipurpose compost around the bulb in a pot, as in this cut-away.
Water gently to settle the compost around the roots, adding more if there are low spots as the water drains.
This is a bulb that enjoys heat and light, so the top half of the bulb should sit above the surface level of the compost.
No matter how fastidious you are with your plants, there will be a residue of pests and/or diseases in your pots at the end of the season. Many of these come equipped with protective mechanisms that allow them to survive the winter and rise to infect your plants next year. Cleaning everything ready to make a fresh start in spring is time-consuming, but worth the effort.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Large container, Disinfectant/Sterilant, Waterproof gloves
Use a stiff-bristled brush to get rid of all the loose compost and debris.
Add a measure of disinfectant or sterilant to a large container of clean water.
Submerge the pot in the water and leave to soak for several hours.
Smaller pots can be done as a batch. When you take the pots out of the water, turn them upside down and leave to drain and dry. Then you can pack them away under cover until you need them.
If you want to make your garden less work, then one place to start is by using weed-suppressing membrane over the borders. This fabric is porous, so water can pass down through it to plant roots, but is dense enough to stop weeds growing up.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Weed-suppressing membrane, knife, trowel, mulch
Ideally, this is best laid over a bare border before you start planting. Overlap the edges if you use more than one strip.
Cut an X with a sharp knife where you want to plant and peel back the flaps to dig the planting hole.
Position the plant and fill in the hole, firming the plant into place. Fold the flaps of fabric back over the soil around the plant.
Disguise the fabric (and help it last longer) with a deep layer of mulch, like bark or gravel. This also helps reduce moisture loss in summer. Leave a small saucer-shaped depression immediately around the plant stem so it cannot be damaged.
There are two schools of thought about rose planting, regarding whether or not the graft union should be buried. Here we show you planting with the graft above ground. This reduces the chance of rot occurring at this point or the scion forming roots. See What is Grafting? in our Gardening Basics section.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Spade, cane, rose, fork, fertiliser
Dig a hole large enough for the root system of your new plant, including room to spread the roots out.
Use a short cane to work out how deep the hole should be. If the graft union is not obvious, then leave the very upper part of the brown root system above ground level.
Fill in the hole around the roots and firm around the plant with your heel. This stops the plant rocking in the wind, which would break off new roots as they began to grow out into the surrounding soil.
Add a measure of general fertiliser around the plant, fork it lightly into the soil and water well. This settles the soil around the roots and washes fertiliser sown towards the rooting zone. Cut any ties, but leave labels in place.
Moth orchids (Phaelenopsis) vary slightly in their flowering habit. Some produce another batch of flower buds at the tip of the current flowering stem, while others produce side shoots from lower down the stem, especially if you cut the stem back. Occasionally, instead of flower buds, a miniature plant is produced, known as a Keiki (Hawaiian for baby).
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pot, orchid compost, plastic bag, rubber band.
If your plant does not produce more buds at the tip of the flowering shoot, trim it back to just above the top stem bud.
Instead of a flowering shoot, you may get a new plant forming, known as a Keiki.
Once this has grown roots, it can be removed from the parent plant. Take a short section of stem with it, as this helps anchor it into a pot of compost.
Pot it into moist orchid compost and cover with a plastic bag, held in place with a rubber band to keep it humid while it establishes. Within a few weeks, it should begin to grow and can be treated the same as other orchids.
On ornamental plants (not fruit) there are a few basic reasons why you should prune, best remembered as the 4 Ds: Dead, Dying, Damaged and Diseased. Next, remove crossing or rubbing branches, any that have reverted to green and for shape.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pruning saw
Dead wood is easiest to see and remove in summer. Cut back to healthy, pale-coloured wood.
Die-back is common after early pruning where a rogue frost can catch you out. Cut back to just above a healthy bud.
Larger dead stems should be removed with a pruning saw, working very carefully so you do not damage nearby shoots.
Green shoots on a variegated plant should be removed, as they contain more chlorophyll and are stronger. If left, they will take over and you will lose the variegation.
We hope these projects have given you a few ideas and a bit of inspiration for what to do in your garden this month.